2002 Ford F150 Lightning - Wicked One
It's a world filled with fire, heavy breathing dragons, and skulls seething from one firey perch to another. This world was not made up on a green screen at a Hollywood studio. It's the imaginary land Mike Lavallee sees when he fills his paint gun. The custom painter and originator of real-fire airbrushing, is well-known as a man who pays close attention to detail and creates life-like figures, both on fire and cooling off from the heat.
When it came time to build a showcase vehicle for his custom paint shop, Killer Paint, and a demo vehicle for Exile Audio, one look around the shop and his daily driver Lightning got the custom nod. The end result is a truck that makes jaws drop and ears pound.
Through his multiple appearances on "Overhaulin'," Mike was able to use his experience to rally the troops in Washington and in Canada. Why the necessity for a multi-country tag-team? It was simple: Mike had 60 days to transform the truck from a stock-white Lightning into a real show-stopper that could illustrate Killer Paint's ability and Exile Audio's sound quality. The clock had officially begun.
Talking via cellular phone, Mike and Exile Audio teamed up with Installation Station and Full Throttle Upholstery, both in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. The three shops would use two trucks, one as the actual to-be-painted F-150, the other as a donor truck that the audio and upholstery shops could use for measurements and fitments. This technique was the only way this admirable task could be pulled off.
Mike and his crew at Killer Paint in Snohomish, Washington, needed time to get the paint just right, so they recruited the help of a neighboring shop. A few ideas were being kicked around at Extreme Metal and Paint in Anacortes, Washington, as to how they could really make the bodywork stand out. Everyone agreed upon suiciding the doors and adding trick Studebaker hinges to the tailgate, which will enable it to swing sideways. Adding even more custom trickery to the mix, the guys at Extreme used linear actuators to raise and lower the tonneau cover and air to open the tailgate so it, too, opens automatically. Other cool mods include the addition of a T-Rex billet grille, a Good Hood, a smooth wiper cowl, smooth bed caps, and a Sir Michaels roll pan. It was now time for Mike and Rob Peffley to work their magic.
Inside of the Killer Paint spray booth, Rob custom mixed House of Kolor Orange with a Euro Red hue to get the pigment just right. After the base was cured, a trick and subtle fade was sprayed to the truck, and then Mike put his talent to work. Mike filled his airbrush gun with House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl, Sunset Pearl, and Sunrise Pearl for a color combination that explodes off of the orange base. Trigger by trigger, the airbrush created insanely real fire flames, menacing skulls, and even a scary skeleton creature emerging from the tailgate. Mike wasn't done with just the typical flamejob, however. He stepped things up by airbrushing a realistic mural of his girlfriend, Nicole, on the underside of the tonneau cover. Resting on a bed of bones and fire, Nicole is surrounded by a monster who is on fire. Her only attempt to escape is to use her airbrushed wings and fly far away. Sticking with the enveloping fire theme, Mike airbrushed Nicole once again under the hood. Paul Iozzio custom built an engine cover to cover the entire underhood compartment. Then, Mike airbrushed Nicole's face resting on her hand as she endures a furnace of flames surrounded by fortunate skulls. Saying there is likeness to Nicole with her airbrushed counterpart is a huge understatement.
After the paint had time to cure, a phone call was made to Installation Station to see how they were doing. Meanwhile, across the border in Canada, the team at Installation Station were knee deep in fiberglass. Awesome fiberglass door panels were built to house a pair of Exile Audio 6-1/2-inch components, and of course, Mike painted those to match. Those mids and highs are powered by two Exile Audio 800.4 amps that were mounted into the bed. The bass is supplied by four 12-inch Exile Audio subs mounted in a blow-through box in the bed. Those low-frequency movers are pushed by a pair of Exile Audio 2400.1 amps, which was also mounted in the bed. Iconnect wires and cables were used throughout and connect from the back of the JVC AVX-2 DVD head unit. More than 50 yards of Dynamat was used to keep everything rattle free.
Matching all of the audio power is an interior that integrates into the Ford unlike any we've seen. Full Throttle Upholstery in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, used the donor F-150 to create an interior out of tan leather, bone vinyl, and tan suede. Katzkin supplied all of the materials for the makeover consisting of covered door panels, the headliner, a leather-covered steering wheel, and reshaped Ford bucket seats that were covered in leather and suede. Full Throttle also customized the color-changed dash to accommodate the 9-1/2-inch LCD screen. To finish off the interior, a custom waterfall center console was built from wood that had been painted and wrapped to match. The console houses the JVC head unit, HVAC controls, and is accented with real spun aluminum spikes. Inside the bed, Full Throttle also treated the rear cargo area to the all leather-and-suede look, and it also used real spun aluminum spikes to accent the sub enclosure. Strips in the floor were painted with skulls and real fire and are split by aluminum. The bed is a true work of automotive art.
Finishing off the insane truck is a full Air Ride Technologies air-ride setup that allows the Lightning to sit low over the Foose Nitrous 20-inch wheels that are wrapped in Toyo tires. Baer rotors help the painted calipers slow the truck to a stop. Porsche Cayenne tips were customized to exit out the factory Lightning location and the supercharged 5.4L is equipped with a K&N filter and it sounds good, thanks to a Flowmaster muffler. A Powermaster high-amp alternator ensures the multiple batteries stay charged.
With a huge sigh of relief, the truck rolled into the Exile Audio booth at the SEMA Show and all parties were amazed at how well the truck came together. There is no chance of missing that bright-orange House of Kolor paint, and your ears cannot tune out the bass coming from the four 12-inch Exile subs. It was one truck, two countries, four shops, and one very far-reaching goal. Mission accomplished. As Mike calls it, this Ford really is a wicked one.